A UK Registered Educational Charity

Biographical Details of Royal Engineer Officers employed on the Sudan Railways (Part 1)

The biographical details of all officers have been drawn, where available, from The Royal Engineer Journal and Who was Who. Reference has also been made to the records of service in the National Archives. These, however, in some cases are badly faded and difficult to read.

See Part 2 for the 1896 Campaign through to the RE withdrawal in 1926.


G.C.S.I.Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
K.C.S.I Knight Commander of the Star of India
C.S.I. Companion of the Order of the Star of India
R of O Reserve of Officers
R.M.A. Woolwich, Royal Military Academy, Woolwich
S.M.E. School of Military Engineering
M.I.D. Mentioned in Despatches
C.M.B. Central Midwives’ Board
C.I.E. Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire
K.C.I.E. Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
C.R.E. Commander, Royal Engineers
P.W.D. Public Works Department
G.O.C. General Officer Commanding
I.G.F. Inspector-General of Fortifications
D.A.A. and Q.M.G Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter-Master General
A.A.G Assistant Adjutant-General


The Suakin-Berber Railway

10th Railway Coy,

Bonham-Carter, Herman, C.M.G., C.I.E., Lt-Col, Royal Engineers
b. 20th April 1863. Marylebone, Middlesex, He was the eldest son of Henry Bonham Carter and Sibella Charlotte Norman. Lt 28th July, 1883, Capt., 2nd Dec, 1891, Major 14th April, 1900, Lt-Col, 1st August 1908, Sudan 1885, Burma 1886-8 with 2nd Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, Was Agent of the Madras Railway from 1902-1908 and was a Director of the Madras and Southern Maratha Railway in 1935. (Sandes 1935) retired 30th Jan 1910. Commended by War Office for his services during a strike in 1911. Elected continuous Indian Service and spent 23 years there. m. Margaret Louisa Wathen 28th August, 1886 at Bexley, Kent. 2 s 1 d, 4 children in ROS . d. 11th December, 1945

Ref. (Conolly 1898) WO25/3915/625

Kunhardt, Henry Geffecken, Major, Royal Engineers.
b. 6th November, 1850, in New York, America, s. of Elizabeth Kunhardt, Commissioned Lt 02/08/1871, he was posted to the P.W.D in India joining the Irrigation Branch, but was soon posted to the Railway Branch, he continued with two exceptions in the Railway Branch until he joined the Burma Ruby Mines Company in 1890 as a director on a salary of £3,000 p.a. From 1877 to March 1878 he was loaned to the Agent for the Governor-General Baluchistan and nearly lost his life at Quetta during an attack by local fanatics. Kunhardt designed and built the residency at Quetta. From October, 1880 to August, 1884 he was posted to the Durbhunga Raj where he built the palace and many improvements around the city. The only active service he saw was at Suakin in 1885, with 10th Railway Company. From 1888-89 he officiated as Manager and engineer-in-chief of the Tirhoot State Railway. He joined the Burma Ruby Mines Company in September, 1890. He was a skilled linguist not only speaking French and German, but in a six month period also passed the High Proficiency Examinations in Urdu and Hindi. He also qualified as a Russian interpreter in 1887. It was the dysentery that he caught whilst at the Burma Ruby Mines that caused his death on his way home to England. The captain of the ship bringing him home had telegraphed his wife from Alexandria saying that she should meet him at Marseilles. M. Justina? 3rd June? 1875 in Moyuffpure? India, 1 s. 1 d. Capt 02/08/1883, Major, 01/11/1889. died at Marseilles 04th Nov. 1892
(Conolly 1898)
(Wilson 1893)

Molony, Francis Arthur, Major, Royal Engineers
b. Muddenpilly, Madras, 17th May, 1863, s. of Frederick Beresford Molony and Eleanor Jane Gayer. Father's name not recorded in the ROS as his father died when serving in India. His mother was living in Rochester at the time of his enlistment. Lt 25th July 1882, Capt 22nd Oct, 1890, Major 27th October 1899, Sudan 1885, 10th Company, Royal Engineers during the Suakin Expedition, South Africa 1899-1902, retired 17th May 1913. 23rd June 1902: Mentioned in Lord Kitchener's Despatches. m. Katherine Mary Grigg at St Martins in the Fields on 8th November, 1888 1 s. 2 d.
(Conolly 1898)

Rathbone, William Hans, Col., Royal Engineers
b. Cheltenham, 21st December, 1841? s. of Sydney Rathbone, m. Bella Grace McNeale? at Cheltenham, 1 s, 4 d., Lt 17th December, 1862, Capt 23rd Jan, 1877, Major, 17th Dec, 1882, Lt-Col, 24th January, 1890, Regt, Army Lt.-Col., 17th December, 1889, Col., 25th May, 1894, Sudan as o/c 10th Railway Company, 1885, Zululand 1888, also served in Ceylon, Bengal and Gibraltar. retired 12th December, 1898, died at Cheltenham 4th June, 1913
(Conolly 1898)
WO 25/3914

St Clair, William Augustus Edmund, Lieutenant Colonel, C.M.G., Royal Engineers
b. 1854, y.s. of James Louis St Clair and Juliet neé Crawshay of Staverton Court, Gloucester, Educ. Private School, R.M.A. Woolwich, entered R.E. April 1873. He commanded No. 4 Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners in Afghanistan and was present at Sibi, the Nari Pass, Kandahar, Harnai and Chapper Rift. During the Egyptian campaign he served with the 10th Railway Company where he was detailed to survey and stake out the line for the Suakin-Berber Railway. On completion of this project the 10th Company commenced work on the 18 inch railway and took charge of the water supply at the base. They later prepared the armoured train that patrolled the line. The railway line was never fully completed, due to the withdrawal of the British Forces, and as a result all the tracks were pulled up and shipped back to England. St Clair served as a Staff Officer during the Boer War and was advanced to a Brevet of Colonel in February 1904, retiring in August 1905. He was re-called for home service during the Great War and served on the General Staff, as commanding R.E. Dublin District and was Mentioned in Despatches London Gazette 12 February 1918. m. 18th May, 188 6 Louise Gabrielle d. of Walter Crawshay of Le Chasmay, Fourchambault, Niévre, France, at the English Embassy, Paris, one d., J.P. Surrey. d 12th Sept. 1923, Domansland, Surrey.

CMG (n/b), Afghan (0) (Lieut, R.E.), Egypt (1) Suakin 1885 (Capt., R.E.), QSA (4) CC OFS Tr SA01 (Lieut.-Col., R.E.), Khedive’s Star 1884-86. DNW Feb 98

(Anon 1929)

Sim, George Hamilton, Col., G.M.G., C.B., Royal Engineers
b. 19th Nov., 1852, s. of Alexander Sim, Harrow Weald Park, m. 1875 Bessie Katherine, 2nd d. of Edward Hayward, Wokingham, 2 s, 1 d, Educ. Rugby, R.M.A Woolwich, retired 1909, re-employed 1914-17, d. 27th December, 1929. Lt. 22nd Sept. 1872, Capt. 12th Sept, 1884, Major, 16th March, 1892, Lt-Col, 1st October, 1899, Col., 1903, served Afghanistan, 1879-80 (medal), Suakin 1885 (medal with clasp, Khedive’s star), South Africa, 1898-1900 + 1901-02 (M.I.D., Queen’s Medal 6 clasps, King’s Medal 2 clasps, C.B.)

(Conolly 1898)
(Anon 1941)

The 1885 Dongola Campaign Relief of Khartoum

8th Company R.E.

Ferrier, James Archibald, MAJOR-GENERAL, C.B., D.S.O.
James Archibald Ferrier was the youngest of five sons of Major Ilay Ferrier, Belsyde, Linlithgow and of Catherine Maria, daughter of E de Wind. Ferrier was born on March 25th , 1854 at Malacca, Straits Settlements, and was educated at St. James' Collegiate School, Jersey, before passing into the Royal Military Academy and received his commission as Lieutenant on 9th January, I873. In January, 1876, he went to India and joined the Bengal Sappers and Miners at Roorkee, but was transferred to the Military Works Department at Lucknow, and then Allahabad and Cawnpore. The Afghan War broke out in the autumn of 1878, and in February, 1879, Ferrier was ordered up the Khaiber and employed chiefly on survey work in addition to road making, hutting and water supply. The result of his survey work was of considerable use in the Tirah campaign of 1897. He was informed by the Intelligence Dept. that it had no information about the country round Landi Kotal and east of it, except an old small-scale map, and a wire to Simla produced the large scale maps Ferrier had made. He left the Khaiber in August, I880, after a varied experience extending to Jelalabad. He finally reached Lucknow in September. After being stationed at Allahabad again and then Calcutta, Morar, etc., he returned home at the end of 1882, joining a Depot company at Chatham and becoming Officer-in-Charge of Workshops. In 1884, before a relief expedition for Egypt was decided on, the personnel of 8th Railway Coy., to which Ferrier was posted, were distributed in detachments on the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. The Company embarked in September, and was soon engaged in overhauling and improving the 3' 6" line to Sarras and remained at this work till the relief expedition began to return. The line had been extended to Akasheh, 50 miles beyond Sarras, and the work had been assisted by gangs of Indian plate-layers under Captain Olivier. The Gordon relief failed and orders were received to stop further work, as the troops were being withdrawn and the line was to be rolled up as far as Wadi Halfa. The Mahdi had different ideas and the Deverishes followed the retreating troops. The Cameron Highlanders with some R.E. and a few gunners were moved to Koskey, ten miles beyond Akasheh, and a fort constructed there which checked the invaders for some time. Ferrier was appointed Managing Director of the line. One morning he received telegraphic orders to proceed to Ambigole Wells, about 60 miles above Wadi Halfa, where there was a watering tank and pump and a small redoubt, with a garrison of about 30 Royal West Kents with some R.E. and telegraph details. The line had been destroyed by the dervishes five miles farther on. On returning to Ambigole Wells after repairing the line, he found that post being attacked. About 700 dervishes had attacked the post unexpectedly, bringing a small field-gun into action, and had cut the railway and telegraph lines above and below the station. In the train with Ferrier were about 50 men of the Royal Berks. The dervishes attacked this post for about three days and were driven off practically before relieving forces from Wadi Halfa and Akasheh arrived. For his action at Ambigole Wells and his other services he was awarded the D.S.O. Shortly afterwards he returned to England on leave and in July, 1886, rejoined the 8th Coy. at Chatham, and the following January he took over command of the 10th Railway Coy. at Devonport. In the autumn of 1888 he was appointed Adjutant R.E. at Chatham the last to hold that appointment as it subsequently became Adjutant S.M.E. In the autumn of 1892 he again proceeded to India and became Executive Engineer, M.W.D., Madras. At the end of 1894 he was appointed Personal Assistant to the D.G.M.W. at Simla. In 1897 considerable signs of unrest became visible in India itself and on the Frontier. Trouble first started in June in the Tochi Valley with the attack at Maizar and a force was sent there. It then extended to the Malakand and troops were hurried there in September. Then the Mohmands and later the Afridis joined in. The Tirah Field Force of two Divisions and other troops concentrated at Kohat. At the end of September Major Ferrier was appointed Field Engineer of the 1st Brigade, and his previous knowledge was of great utility as the R.E. officers with the 1st Division had had no previous experience of the N.W. Frontier. After arrival in the Khaiber, Ferrier was appointed Brigade-Major, R.E. The force was broken up in April, 1898. He was awarded a Brevet Lieut.-Colonelcy. Ferrier rejoined at Simla when the Field Force was broken up, and shortly after proceeded on two years' furlough; a considerable portion of which was spent on the Continent, including attendance at the Swiss manoeuvres. In 1899 he applied to revert to Home Service, and in December took over the command of the Training Battalion at Chatham, which he held throughout the South African War. In March, 1903, he embarked for Natal. During his stay there he was called on to prepare several defence schemes, one of which was in the event of a Zulu rising, and this was acted on some years later during Bambata's Rebellion. He left South Africa in September, 1904, and was on half-pay till appointed Chief Engineer, Thames and Medway Defences, in September, 1905. In April, 1908, he was appointed Commandant, S.M.E. In June, 1910, Ferrier left the S.M.E. on promotion to Major-General and at the end of May, 1911, was appointed G.O.C. Sierra Leone. Whilst in Sierra Leone he re-wrote the Defence Scheme and it was his scheme which was acted on when war broke out. Ferrier left Sierra Leone in June, 1914, and went to Canada, where two of his sons were. Immediately on receipt of the news of the outbreak of the Great War, he crossed to England by the first boat, but it was not till May, 1915, that he was employed as G.O.C. at Hull. The Humber Garrison was in the making when he took over. Like most tasks in the war, this was one of extreme difficulty, for not only were the defences under his command and the control of troops, amounting at times to 40,000 men, but he had to deal with the city authorities and-those of the docks, and had to try to prevent such things as food, rubber tyres and even picks and shovels being shipped to neutrals for use by Germany. When in February, 1917, he was replaced by a Major-General on half-pay; he received letters of regret at his departure and appreciation of his services not only from officers serving under him, but from the Admiral, the Lord Mayor and other civilians. Major-General Ferrier retired on retired pay on February 17th, 1917. After retirement General Ferrier settled in Crowthorne, Berks, and immediately interested himself in war pension work. The Ministry of Pensions was newly formed and many ex-servicemen had cause to be grateful to Ferrier for his work on their behalf before the regulations became clear. A great deal of correspondence with headquarters was necessitated. When the British Legion was formed, he summoned a meeting which resulted in a branch being formed with him as first Chairman. With exception of an interval of one and a half years when he was absent in Canada and France, he retained the Chairmanship until compelled by ill-health to resign. General Ferrier married in 1887, Louisa Emily, second daughter of Mr. T. F. Watkins and of Annie McMaster Shaw, who survives him, and he left three sons. He died at his home, Poynings, Crowthorne, Berkshire, on July 25th 1934

A.L.S. REJ 1934 Dec

Born in Paddington on 3rd January, 1862 and died at West Coker, Somerset on 18th, April, 1939, s. of Jonah and Miriam (née Jacobs) the second wife of Nathan. Educated privately, under the guidance his mother, his brothers being Sir Nathaniel Nathan, K.C., Sir Robert Nathan, Indian Civil Service., Colonel Sir Frederick Nathan, R.A., the expert of his time on explosives, Major Walter Nathan R.E., who left to join a China trading corporation, William Nathan of the Indian Public Works, who died young, and George Nathan, of the publishing firm of Constable and Company. He entered second in his year into the R.M.A. Woolwich at the youngest possible age; but after the first term was head of his class. He became Senior Under Officer and on passing out received the Sword and the Pollock Medal and seven prizes, including those for German and Italian. His success was due to sheer hard work a rarity at Woolwich then. After leaving the S.M.E., he was posted to the office of the Inspector-General of Fortifications (I.G.F). At the end of 1883, when the defence of coaling stations for the Navy was to the fore, he was sent to Sierra Leone on survey duty. He returned there as local Captain and C.R.E. in 1886-7. In the interval he was employed on the Sudan railway in 1884-5. He undertook surveying operations during this time . Between 1887-91 he was in India for work on coast defences, constructing them at Bombay and Rangoon, and took part in the Lushai Expedition of 1889. Returning to the fortifications branch of the I.G.F.'s office I89I-9, he acted at the same time, from I895-I900, as Secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee. This brought him to the notice of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary. Nathan was sent at his own suggestion to fill a temporary vacancy in the Governorship of Sierra Leone. His tenure as Governor was so successful that a year after returning in November, 1900, he was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast Colony, a post which he held for 3½ years. The Ashanti troubles of 1899 were only just over; and there was much work to do. He organized the resources and finances of the colony and this included developing the communications, in particular the railway. .He was popular and accessible Governor although he did not always select the best staff. Created K.C.M.G. in 1902, at the end of his tour on the Gold Coast he was transferred to the Governorship of Hong Kong (June, 1904 to April, 1907), and thus was head of the colony at one of the periods of its greatest prosperity. At this time he was a regimental major, he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant-colonel, as he had not attended the examination for “tactical fitness." He was not allowed to take the test because he as Governor and Commander-in-Chief and would have to be examined by officers officially junior to him. He was given the consolation prize of a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy and advanced to G.C.M.G. In 1907 he was posted to Natal, where he remained till the beginning of 1910, when the Union of S. Africa was formed. Thus he was the last Governor of Natal. He then became Secretary to the General Post Office, but only held the post for eight months, being promoted to be Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue. He held this new post for three and a half years, until October, 1914, when possibly because he had experience in changing the forms of government in Natal he became Under-Secretary for Ireland, to prepare the way for Home Rule. World War 1 gave the Irish republicans the opportunity for which they had been longing; Government inaction and the intelligence service was apparently either very efficient or very defective, for the Chief Secretary was in London, and the general officer commanding the troops in Ireland, was on short leave, when the rebellion broke out at Easter, 1916. The Government's excuse was that they had not been warned, so the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary resigned, and Nathan was transferred to the post of Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions. The Royal Commission on the Irish Rebellion reported as regards Sir Matthew Nathan: " In our view he carried out with the utmost loyalty the policy of the Government, and of his immediate superior the Chief Secretary; but we consider that he did not sufficiently impress upon the Chief Secretary, during the latter's prolonged absences from Dublin, the necessity for more active measures to remedy the situation in Ireland, which on December 18 last, in a letter to the Chief Secretary, he described as 'most serious and menacing.' In 1919 it came to notice that, owing to the variety of his employments, Nathan was not entitled to any full pension except that of a Major R.E., and from the Ministry of Pensions he was appointed Governor of Queensland in order to qualify for a full Colonial Office pension, holding the post for five years with the success which had attended his governorships elsewhere. After retiring in 1926, he heard that the old Manor house of West Coker was on the market. This he purchased, added a wing to it for his large library, which exactly imitated the original part and in a few years could not be distinguished from it. He took up county work with the same zeal and energy which he had exhibited in his official capacities, so that in a short time no local “function" was complete without him. He was an alderman of the County Council, president of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, and Sheriff in 1934. His special interest was the collection, preservation and classification of the West Coker records. He never married

REJ Sept 1939 (Anon 1939)
Wilson (Wilson 1986)
Hill, R.L. A Biographical Directory of the Sudan

Olivier, Henry Dacres, Col., Royal Engineers
b. c. 1850, eldest son of Rev. and Mrs Henry Olivier, commissioned Lt, 15th Dec. 1871, Capt, 15th Dec. 1883, Major 29th June, 1890, Lt-Col, 1st April, 1898, Col, 1st April 1902, posted to India in 1874, into P.W.D. of Bombay Presidency, served Afghanistan 1880 as Assistant Field Engineer with the Khandahar Column, In 1882, employed on Malsey Ghat Railway, later served at Bombay, as Deputy Chief Engineer, Railways for two years. Suakin 1885, Appointed Under-Secretary to Government of Bombay in the P.W.D. in 1889, holding that position until 1891, when he was posted to Ahmadabad as Executive Engineer. In 1895 appointed Agent, Bombay, Baroda, and Central India, and Rajputana-Malwa Railways until he retired on 22nd April 1904, d. Winchfield, 30th March, 1935.

(Anon 1935)
(Conolly 1898)

MID Afghanistan

Roper, Alexander William, Col., C.B. C.B.E.
Youngest son of Sir Henry Roper Kt., Chief Justice, Bombay. b. 3rd July, 1862 in London. educ. Marlborough College, R.M.A., Woolwich at Christmas 1879, commissioned Lt. 22nd Feb, 1882, Capt, 3rd July 1890, Major 25th Sept, 1899, Lt-Col Regt rank 1st April 1906, Army rank 29th April, 1900, Col, 31st April, 1908, served, Sudan 1884-5 South Africa 1900-02. After finishing his course at Chatham he was posted to 8th Railway Company and returned home in June, 1885, but was then posted back to Cairo to join 11th Field Company. He returned to Chatham in March, 1887. From November, 1888 until March, 1892 he was Assistant Instructor in Field Fortifications at S.M.E. A posting to Gibraltar followed until February, 1897. He returned to Shorncliffe, taking command of 38th Field Company and took them to the South African War seeing action including the relief of Kimberley, and actions at Paardeberg, Poplar Grove, and Driefontein. Returning to S.M.E. in November, 1902 he became Instructor in Tactics at S.M.E and Major of the Training Battalion. He was C.R.E., Egypt from August, 1906 to July, 1911 when he went to Pretoria as Chief Engineer. In March, 1914 he was ordered to Dublin. In 1915 he was sent as Brigadier-General for the Royal Engineers on the Headquarters staff of the Dardanelles Campaign. From November, 1915 to January, 1920 he held the appointment of Inspector of Royal Engineers. Never married and was living with his sister at Eastbourne when he died on 6th March, 1940

Honours and Awards
CB 1914 CBE in WW1
Sudan Medal and Khedive’s Bronze Star
South African War
Mentioned in Despatches
Queen’s Medal three clasps
King’s Medal two clasps
Mentioned in Despatches
War Medals
Reward for Distinguished Service, 1926

(Anon 1940)
(Conolly 1898)
(Anon 1941)

Scott, Douglas Alexander, MAJOR-GENERAL C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., COLONEL-COMMANDANT R.E.
Born on December 14th, 1848, at Boulogne, France. s. of John Scott, M.D. and Alicia Lucy Murray, granddaughter of Admiral Sir George Murray, KCB. Educ. Milton Abbas Grammar School, he was gazetted to a lieutenancy in the Royal Engineers from the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in January, 1870. Posted almost immediately to India, he was employed as a consulting railway engineer. He became Deputy Consulting Engineer to Government of India for Guaranteed Railways, 1876-77, in charge of Royal Train on Government Railways on occasion of Prince of Wales visit to India, 1876, for which he received thanks of Government of India, As a subaltern he saw service in the Afghan War 1878-80. Shortly after being promoted to Captain he accompanied an expeditionary force to Egypt in 1882; Captain Scott was rewarded for his services with the brevet majority. He remained on in Egypt, became Director of Sudan Railways during the campaign of I884-5. Considerable details of his work in command of the 8th Railway Coy R.E. in Egypt in 1884 will be found, in the Memoir of Lieut.-Colonel Pelham von Donop, which was published in the R.E. Journal of February, 1922. In commenting upon those notes, Major-General Sir Richard Ruck, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., called attention to the fact that this was the first British campaign in which military railway companies formed an important feature in the supply of an army in the field. He then served as D.A.A. and Q.M.G., being again "mentioned in despatches" and securing a D.S.O. and a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy. He now served for some time at home, was A.A.G of Royal Engineers at Army Headquarters from June, 1894, to June, 1899; C.R.E., Southern District, from June, 1899, to September, 1902; as a major-general he was C.R.E. of the Second Army Corps from September, 1902, to September, 1905, and during the ensuing four years he commanded the Coast Defences of the Eastern Command. He was given the C.B. in 1897, the C.V.O. in 1901, and was appointed Colonel-Commandant Royal Engineers in 1921. On 4th January, 1894 General Scott married Mary (d 1918), at the Parish Church, Liss, Hants., d. of Captain and The Hon Mrs Cardew, 74th Highlanders, and a grand-daughter of Lord Chancellor Westbury. They had one son and two daughters. d. 5th February, 1924, after an operation in a nursing home at Oxford. General Douglas Scott was a brother of Sir John Scott, Bart., who was instrumental in securing the Wallace Collection for the nation. General Douglas Scott claimed to have been the first officer to receive the D.S.O., and that he was very proud that an officer of the Royal Engineers should have been the first recipient of the Order

(Anon 1929)
(Anon 1924)

Vidal, William Sealy
b. 13th November, 1860, at Abbotsham, Bideford. s. of E.A. Vidal. Entered R.M.A., Woolwich in January, 1878 and graduated in July, 1879. Lt. 30th July 1879, Capt., 17th April, 1889, Egypt, 1882, Suakin 1884-85, Sudan, 1885-86, died at Teneriffe, 14th January 1896. A very good sportsman and represented the Sappers at Association Football. Whilst still under instruction at S.M.E, Chatham he was sent to help out with the reconstruction of a sea wall at Canvey Island which had failed. In 1881 he undertook a course in submarine mining and lived on H.M.S Hood. Posted with 8th Railway Company to Egypt in 1882, he took part in the action at Kassassin and the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. On returning from Egypt he was sent to prepare the artillery ranges at Lydd, Kent and build the branch line joining the ranges to the South Eastern Railway. Back in the Sudan in 1884, he spent most of his time working at railhead, where he was noted for his hospitality to officers returning from the front. On returning home he again became a submarine miner at Chatham. During the winter of 1886-87 he was in command of a large body of men lent to the Great Western Railway at Reading to repair telegraph lines that had been brought down by snow. In May, 1890 he became Experimental Officer of Submarine Mining at Portsmouth and in May, 1892 was appointed Chief Instructor in Submarine Mining at Portsmouth. Consumption following typhoid fever obliged him to resign is appointment in 1895. m. Jane Rebakah Conington in Lincolnshire on 19th October, 1893.

Mentioned in Despatches for his work in repairing the line at Ambigole Wells after the Dervish attack in 1885-86
(Anon 1896)
(Conolly 1898)

Von Donop, Pelham George, LIEUT.-COLONEL LATE R.E.
Pelham George von Donop was the son of Vice-Admiral E. P. von Donop and was born at Southsea on the 28th April, 1851. He was educated at Somerset College, Bath, entering the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in 1869, and obtained a Commission in the Royal Engineers in December, 1871. He was from the first both a good worker and a good player, representing his school both at cricket and football, and playing in the Royal Military Academy Cricket Eleven in the years 1870 and 1871. Von Donop joined the School of Military Engineering at rather a remarkable time. It may be said to have been the advent of a new era in the history of the Royal Engineers. Scientific and technical developments greatly expanded the duties of the Royal Engineers. von Donop was destined to take an important part in all of these new activities of the Corps. Whilst a good cricketer he was an exceptionally fine Association football player; in fact, the Sporting Press at that time described him as "The Prince of Dribblers." In addition to assisting to maintain the R.E. football team in the very front rank of clubs, he twice played for England against Scotland, in 1873 and again in 1875; he was also one of the R.E. team who won the Association Challenge Cup in the year 1875. At Chatham, in 1875, he made a century in the celebrated match, R.E. v. I.Z., when the R.E. made 726 for 8 wickets and the I.Z. never got an innings. On leaving the S.M.E., von Donop was posted to the 28th Submarine Mining Co. After one-and-a-half years at Gosport the 28th Co. was sent to Bermuda, where they again carried all before them at cricket, finally playing a combined Naval and Military Eleven representing the World. Von Donop and his brother officer, C. K. Wood (of the 28th Co.), also won the Open Championship Doubles Lawn Tennis whilst at Bermuda. Later von Donop became a first class lawn tennis player, finally winning the West of England Championship at Bath in 1884. On returning to England in October, 1880, von Donop was appointed to the .Postal Telegraph Service at Bristol, which was then the Headquarters of the R.E., entrusted with the charge of the Postal Telegraphs to the South of the Thames. This was work of an entirely different nature to that of which he was accustomed. His men were scattered in small detachments or even singly over wide areas and carried out their work alongside and even under civilians. At this time also the military branch of the Postal Telegraphs was on trial; hence many difficulties and prejudices had to be overcome. That he carried out his duties satisfactorily in every respect whilst at Bristol is indicated by the fact that, in 1884, he was specially selected to join the 8th Railway Co., R.E., this company being under orders to proceed to Egypt on active service. On the 13th June, 1884, orders were received at Chatham to make up the 8th Co., R.E., to war strength and three extra officers were at once posted to the Company. Von Donop was one of these and he was placed in command of the traffic portion. Between this date embarkation for Alexandria, through the courtesy of the Chairman and Directors of the L. C. and D. Railway, the N.C.O.s and men of the Company were drafted on to this railway for instruction and training, and von Donop exercised a general supervision of his men during the time they were thus employed. "The embarkation of the Company took place on the 3rd September, 1884, arriving in Alexandria on the 15th September, when it was immediately sent up the Nile to Wadi Halfa, the terminus of the Soudan Railway, which place was reached on the 4th October. Von Donop was appointed Traffic Manager, and he retained this appointment for the time the railway remained under military control, i.e., until the 19th April, 1886, and he then returned to England with the Company in June, 1886. On his return to England, from Egypt, in 1886, von Donop was sent again to the S.M.E., where he remained for two years, and then, after a short spell at Harwich, he was selected for the appointment of Inspector of Submarine Defences in India. This appointment was specially important at the time as the plans of the re-organized Submarine Mining Defences were under consideration. Brig.-Gen. Tudor, who served under von Donop in India, says that "the plans were approved soon after my arrival, 1889, and we set to work to survey the harbours and prepare the stores. The whole of this work was completed while von Donop was I.S.D. in India. We also had some actual rehearsals of laying out the mine-fields when von Donop was present. Before he left India the whole of the S.M. Defences, including electric lights, of the Indian Ports were complete and efficient, no mean accomplishment in those days of parsimonious governments.” On his return home von Donop received another important appointment, being made Officer Commanding the 2nd Division Telegraph Battalion, and was entrusted with the supervision of the whole of the Postal Telegraphs south of the Thames, with Headquarters in London. The responsibilities of this appointment were extensive, as, amongst other things, they involved the whole engineering requirements of the Postal Telegraphs in this area, including heavy new construction work, costing large sums of money. Von Donop's previous experience at Bristol was no doubt invaluable, more especially in dealing with the many questions in which the public were concerned, and in the harmonious interworking of the military and civil sides. After the completion of his four years' tenure of office with the Postal Telegraphs, von Donop was, in-May 1898, appointed Commanding Royal Engineer at Dover, where he remained for rather over a year when he was made an Inspector of Railways under the Board of Trade. He now commenced, what perhaps may be called the most valuable part of his official career extending over a period of 17 years, during the last three of which he was the Chief Inspector. In 1913, he succeeded to the post of Inspecting Officer of Railways, and in 1916 he retired from the public service under the inexorable law known as the age limit. “The following extract from the Railway Gazette of August 25th, 1916, when he retired from the appointment of Chief Inspector is an indication of why von Donop succeeded in posts requiring both tact and technical ability. “Colonel von Donop was an ideal civil servant, painstaking, approachable, and always willing to hear both sides of a question. His inspections and enquiries were thorough, nothing being taken for granted, but always with that reasonableness that made Railway Officers most willing to assist him.” M. 1890 Ethel Farran, d. of J Orr, The High Court, Bombay. After his retirement, he resided at Camberley, occasionally visiting the South of France. Early in 1921 he developed a serious illness which eventually proved fatal on the 7th November. He was buried at East Sheen on the 10th November

(Ruck 1922)
(Anon 1929)

Wilberforce Clarke, Henry, Lt.-Col., R.E.
Henry Wilberforce Clarke, b. 5th November, 1840 at Simla. s. of Richard Henley Pelly and Charlotte Clarke , educated at Cheltenham College, and at the Honourable East India Company's Military Seminary Addiscombe (1858-1860), which he left, second in the last batch of the old Indian Engineers, as a lieutenant in the Royal Bengal Engineers (8th June, 1860). After time under instruction at Chatham he was posted to India in October 1862 joining the Indian Public Works Department in May, 1863. His health broke down early which necessitated prolonged leaves in Europe (1865-66, 1869-72, 1880-84), this prevented him rising high in the Public Works Department. Some of the posts he held while in India were Assistant to Chief Engineer and Assistant Secretary to Government in P.W.D. In 1865, and again in 1868-69; Deputy Consulting Engineer for Railways, 1876-80 and 1888-89, and Consulting Engineer, 1890. However, his sick leave led him to gain experience in other parts of the world, an experience not normally achieved by an Indian Engineer. He was Assistant Field Engineer with the Abyssinian Expedition (1867-68), was mentioned in despatches for "excellent service," and obtained the medal. He changed to home service in 1882, he was selected to project the Suakin-Berber Railway (1884); served as Director of Railways in Egypt in 1884; and was an A.A.G. with the Nile Expedition (1884-85), with which he advanced as far as Dongola, being subsequently mentioned in despatches and receiving the medal with clasp and star. He took over the Sudan Railway to Saras and began repairing the line before the arrival of 8th Company, R.E. (Sandes 1937) He was selected from those on the Nile Expedition (1884) to determine the latitude and longitude of certain positions in the Nile valley, a work which would be assigned in India to the staff of the Indian Survey. After this he became C.R.E. at Devonport (1885-86), and was C.R.E. in S. Africa, 1886-88. After a further short period of service in India, as Consulting Engineer for Railways (1890-91), he retired in 1891 as a Lieut.-Colonel. After travelling for some years he took up farming on the small property of Dilkusha, of about 1,100 acres, at Sestri Levante in Liguria, where he worked on improving the cultivation of the olive vine, orange, fig, etc. He died there of heart complaint on the 5th October, 1905. He was twice married (first in 1872, again in 1897). By the first wife, who died in 1893, he leaves two sons and two daughters. He was very good at languages so much so that, in spite of prolonged absences from India, he became a competent Persian scholar, and was selected by the Bengal Asiatic Society as translator of part of the 'A1n-1-Akbar1, and was even a candidate for the chair of Persian at Oxford, 1880.
He published, among other works, the following:
A "Persian Manual" (1878), which was adopted by Government for the Indo-European Telegraph Staff.

Translations into English prose of four of the great Persian poems:
1 The Bistadn of Sadi (1879);
2. The Sikandar Ndima-e-Nizdmii (1881), 800 pp.;
3. The Diwdan-i-Hdfiz (1891), 2 vols.;
4. The Shdh-Nadma-e-Firdausi, 2,000 pp.

(Cunningham 1906)

Yorke, Sir, Horatio Arthur Sydney? Lt.-Col., Royal Engineers, C.B.
b. Wimpole Rectory, Cambridge 3rd June, 1848, s. of Venerable Hon. Henry Reginald Yorke and Flora Elizabeth Campbell, educ. Charterhouse 1863-65, m 1st 26th August, 1869 Harriet Forss at Gravesend, divorced on 20th January, 1892, 2nd 26th July, 1893 Rebecca Caroline Garstin at Redmile, Leics, served in the second phase of the 1880 Afghan Campaign as Assistant Field Engineer, Khyber Line Force and as staff officer in the Sudan during the Gordon Relief campaign including time on improving the Assouan - Esh Shallal railway. Commissioned into R.E. 13th January, 1869. retired as Lt-Col 6th August, 1899. Served on Board of Trade, 1891-1913 as Chief Inspecting General of Railways. d. 10th December, 1930.
REJ Sept, 1940 and Dec. 1940

(Sandes 1937)

Wilson, George Frederick. Col., Royal Engineers
b. 6th January, 1851, Ballermackey, s. of John H Wilson of Loocha, Tipperary, m. 29th March, 1879, Darjeeling, Elizabeth Rebecca Burton Judge, Commissioned 2nd August, 1871, retired 6th January, 1908, died in London 18th June, 1911, overseas service, 33 years in India, 363 days in Egypt,


Other officers

Hawkins, Walter Francis, C.M.G. Col., R.E.
b. Sydney, New South Wales, 19th June, 1856, commissioned 9th February, 1876, served Suakin Expedition, under Major Clarke reporting on Suakin-Berber Railway, served Nile Expedition, 1884-85 under Major Clarke, reporting on Wadi Halfa Railway, until 8th November, 1884 and then at Assouan until 2nd February, 1885. also served at Pembroke Dock on torpedo duty, Malta, Singapore, and South African War, with 48th Field Company, operations in South Africa, actions at Longhart’s Kop, siege of Ladysmith (as Director of Army Telegraphs) Operations in Natal and Transvaal, Assistant Instructor in telegraphy at S.M.E. 1889- commanded 1st Division Telegraph Battalion 1898-99, retired 24th, April, 1907 died at Parkstone on 25th January,? Married but wife’s name (Archer?) unreadable in WO25/3915/168

Luard, William Ducane, Major, Royal Engineers
b. 4th September, 1862, at Sheerness, s. of Vice Admiral Luard. Commissioned 25th July, 1882, served Nile Expedition 1884 at Assidut and Assouan and on Sudan Railway at Ambigole Wells and then on fortifications at Agada and Koskeh. Mentioned in Despatches for work on Nile. Employed on expedition against the Yonnis, West Coast of Africa, November, 1887 to January, 1888. retired 17th January, 1903 as a major. m. Maud Staine, on 28th November, 1895 at the Abbey Church, Bath.


Anon (1896). "Obituary Notice, Capt. W.S. Vidal, R.E." The Royal Engineers Journal(March): 57.
Anon (1924). "Major-General Douglas Alexander Scott, C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., Colonel-Commandant R.E. ." Royal Engineers Journal XXXVIII(No. 2).
Anon (1929). Who was Who 1916-1928. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Anon (1935). "Colonel Henry Dacres Olivier." Supplement to the Royal Engineers Journal(June): 190.
Anon (1939). "LIEUT.-COLONEL THE RIGHT HON. SIR MATTHEW NATHAN, P.C., G.C.M.G., D.L." Royal Engineers Journal LIII(Sept.).
Anon (1940). "Obituary Notice Brigadier-General A.W. Roper, C.B., C.B.E." Supplement to the Royal Engineers Journal(July).
Anon (1941). Who was Who 1929-1940. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Anon (1952). Who was Who 1941-1950. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Anon (1961). Who was Who, 1951-1960. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Anon, Ed. (1971). Who was Who 1961 - 1970. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Anon, Ed. (1981). Who was Who. London, Adam and Charles Black.
Blakeney, R. B. D. (1940). "Brigadier-General Sir George Bohun Macauley K.C.M.G., K.B.E., C.B." Royal Engineers Journal(June).
C.C.P (1951). "Colonel R.E.M. Russell, C.V.O., C.B.E., D.S.O.,." The Royal Engineers Journal LXV(1).
Conolly, T. W. J., Capt., R.E. (1898). Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers from 1660 to1898. Chatham, Royal Engineers Institute.
Creagh, O. M., Sir, V.C. G.C.B., G.C.S.I., and E. M. Humphris, Eds. (1978). The Distinguished Service Order 1886 - 1923. London, J.B. Hayward & Son.
Cunningham, A. (1906). "Lt.-Col H Wilberforce Clarke R.E." Royal Engineers Journal III(No. 3).
Keown-Boyd, H. (1996). Soldiers of the Nile, A Biographical History of the British Officers of the Egyptian Army 1882-1925. Thornbury, Thornbury Publications.
Pritchard, H. L. (1933). "Colonel Sir Edouard Percy Cranwill Girouard, K.C.M.G., D.S.O.,." Royal Engineers Journal XLVII(June).
Ruck, R. M., Sir, Major-General (1922). "Lieut-Colonel P.G. Von Donop, Late R.E. ." Royal Engineers Journal(Feb).
Sandes, E. W. C., Lt. Col. R.E. (1937). The Royal Engineers in Egypt and the Sudan. Chatham, The Institution of Royal Engineers.
Sandes, L. C., E.W.C. (1935). The Military Engineer in India. Chatham, The Institution of Royal Engineers.
Trett, R. J., OBE. TD. (1990). A Short Guide to the Service Memorials of Rochester Cathedral. Rochester, The Fiends of Rochester Cathedral.
Wilson, G. F. (1893). "Major Henry Geffecken Kunhardt." The Royal Engineers Journal(January): 19-20.
Wilson, P., D (1986). Australian Dictionary of Biography, MUP.

RETURN TO    Home Page    Top of this Page
Registered Charity No 290944 Company Limited by Guarantee No 1862659